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Oklahomans frustrated after railroad law ruled unconstitutional

An Oklahoma law aimed at keeping trains from blocking roadways has been ruled unconstitutional...
An Oklahoma law aimed at keeping trains from blocking roadways has been ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge.(kxii)
Published: Dec. 6, 2020 at 7:37 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 7, 2020 at 10:19 AM CST
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DAVIS, Okla. (KXII) - An Oklahoma law aimed at keeping trains from blocking roadways has been ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge.

“I bet you in 45 minutes you can go sit in front of the train and watch it block Davis,” said Steven McDonald, a lifelong Davis resident. “If you’re going through Davis you better not be in a hurry.”

The State of Oklahoma passed a law in 2019 to fine rail companies, but shortly after Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company filed a lawsuit which included the City of Davis as a Defendant.

According to court records, BNSF claimed railroads are federal property. Last week a federal judge back BNSF-- saying the state can’t tell a railroad company how long they may stop.

“This is not an issue that is constrained to just one part of the state,” said Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, Charles McCall.

Speaker McCall wrote the law to allow any local government to issue citations up to $1,000 dollars to any company blocking a railroad intersection for more than 10 minutes.

McCall said the bill was the most discussed topic when it was first read two years ago.

“We saw people from social media, to emails to this office, to phone calls about how this is a problem throughout the state of Oklahoma,” McCall said.

McDonald said he’s experienced blocked intersections and has waited up to 45 minutes. Now, he said he will take the long way around Davis to avoid getting stuck.

“There’s got to be a better, there’s got to be something better than blocking traffic in Davis America for 45 minutes,” said McDonald.

McCall said the state plans to appeal the ruling.

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